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East Village near Webster Hall: Inexpensive place to go before show with 16 teenagers on a Saturday night

We are taking about 16 teenagers Saturday night to a show at Webster Hall in the East Village, taking the train into Grand Central Station, then a subway down to 14th street. We are looking for some inexpensive eats in the area before the show. Is there a place we where can get pizza or burgers that can acccomodate that many people without a reservation? We were looking for something like a Shake Shake that is counter service. We did that up on 8th ave near Times Square a few years ago for the same venue, but it was somewhat of a disaster because the seating was extremely insufficient at that Shake Shake, and we even brought a few less teenagers. We are spending so much on the show and transportation, we don't have another $30 a head to spend on dinner also. And there is a time element too, that's why an informal place is best, so we are not stressed out waiting for wait service and paying the bill which sometimes takes forever. I don't really know the area, so I don't know if there are places that have large informal dining areas.
This could be near Times Square too, but there are very few bargain places up there.
Thanks for any creative suggestions.

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  1. Whole Foods Union Square maybe? It will be tough getting seats all together anywhere that's casual though.

    You may end up needing to make a reservation somewhere unless you could eat standing up at somewhere like Joe's or Artichoke. Or in the park if the weather is nice.

    It's worth calling 5 Napkin just to see if they can accommodate you. Maybe if you break out into a few groups of 4-6. And let them know you need to be at a show afterwards.

    1. There are a lot of chain places on the northwest side of the park like Heartland and Chipotle.

      A good place to walk down is University Place (southeast side of the park). I know there's a Mexican place, also a Patsy's and a couple of other sit down Italian restaurants.

      I think Patsy's could be good for a big group of teens, but you really should call in advance just to inquire or give notice. :)

      1. Vapiano is about 4 blocks from Webster Hall, it's definitely large enough for your group, and they can score some pizza or pasta for about $15/pp, with a soda. It's counter service, and you pay before you get your food, so there's no waiting around for the check. The company website is a bitch to navigate, which is why I'm providing the menupages link:


        But if you wanna drive yourself nuts...http://www.vapiano.com/home/

        Don't expect spectacular food, 'cause you won't get it, but I think it'll suit your needs.

        1 Reply
        1. re: small h

          Patsy's on University and 10th St. for pizza and salads

        2. My nephew did mention Paty's and Artichoke. Patsy's may be a little higher end then I wanted, plus maybe hard to seat 18.
          Artichoke may be a problem with the standing.
          But I like the Vapiano idea. The highlight of the night is the show, not the dinner, so not a big deal if we don't get to sit at one big table.
          The kids are all from the suburbs, so they weren't raised on great NYC pizza like I was. So I don't think it would be a big deal if this is not as good pizza as Patsy's or Artichoke. The reviews sound good enough. We can always play it by ear if it's a nice sunny day and go with a stand up place option.

          1 Reply
          1. re: miketttt

            artichoke is either a major problem for the seating . . . or no problem, since there really isnt any seating at all.

            i just dont think the restaurant economics of the city can support an option that would satisfy your requirements. you want seating for 16 for 10 bucks a head? its not just a question of relaxing your standards of good pizza, im not sure anyone could afford the real estate it would take to serve groups that size in the price range youre talking about (as you noted in your previous shake shack experience).

            is there a reason youre opposed to a reservation, or is it just because you would (maybe rightly) assume reservations would put you out of your preferred price range? if youre taking a train into GCT and have a show to catch at webster hall i would assume youre operating on a fixed schedule.

            two potential options that you may want to investigate (including calling ahead about a reservation or set menu/price for your group) would be bare burger in on la guardia place - they have a very large patio, but its a bit further from the venu, or pop burger on university place. theyre both on the larger size for the area.

          2. How about Pommes Frites? Very bargain and very NYC, good for kids/teens, fun, can walk around and eat. Only caveat is it's french fries, but then the big plus is that it's french fries.

            1. Republic, on USW
              (Not pizza, but creative, inexpensive food that the teens may not have tasted before, and a space that can easily accommodate 16+.)

              Here: http://www.thinknoodles.com/findex.html

              8 Replies
              1. re: Phil Ogelos

                You think it would be easy to find available seating for 16 at Republic? Has the place hit on hard times or something, it's normally a zoo.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  2 of those long tables in the back could together fit 16, no? And I suppose you can reserve them.
                  I agree with the "zoo" part, but teens would revel in that vibe, especially in advance of a concert.

                  EDIT: I just can't abide sending them to the GC food courts; it's like suggesting they trek out to LaGuardia or Kennedy to eat the food on offer there.

                  1. re: Phil Ogelos

                    "2 of those long tables in the back could together fit 16, no?"

                    If they were empty. I don't think they take reservations.

                    1. re: Phil Ogelos

                      Except GCT isn't a trek for them--it's where they're arriving. And the food at GCT is not at all like the concessions at airports. There are plenty of good places there that are in their price range, including Two Boots Pizza.

                      Remember, they're coming to NYC for the music, not for the food experience.

                      1. re: Elisa515

                        "Remember, they're coming to NYC for the music, not for the food experience."

                        It isn't an either/or choice, Elisa; that's the whole point of New York City, and of teenagers.

                        1. re: Phil Ogelos

                          "that's the whole point of New York City, and of teenagers."

                          Uh. A little overstated maybe?

                          Anyway, the dining concourse at Grand Central is an option as an alternative to the OP's original EV request. There's seating. There are outposts from some local restaurants, and bakeries. There's also the Oyster Bar. It's convenient, and a notch up from a chain food court. Logistically, it's an easy option and gives a group of teenagers a lot of choices.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            Why is that overstated? unless umpteen NYC C'Hound posts are all for naught.
                            I seriously don't see why choosing between good food and good music should be a zero-sum decision -especially for absolutists like teenagers. Hence my post.

                            1. re: Phil Ogelos

                              Crowds of drunk teens passing out at their tables in IHOP would agree with you. Countless NY'ers who find purpose living in this city without matching our enthusiasm for food talk might not.

                              In any case, mentioning a dining concourse in GC was a responsible thing to do. Your dissent has been noted, and you're welcome to suggests options that can handle a large party, and serve food superior to Grand Central food court. I've named a few others...it's a different challenge than we normally discuss on here though.

                2. You can eat pretty well for under $10 at This Little Piggy and it's just a few blocks from Webster Hall. The only problem is that you won't be able to fit your whole party in there.


                  1. Schnippers on 23rd St.....same idea as Shake Shack, but less crowded...a detour might present you with a logistical nightmare.

                    Grand Central itself has food court on the lower level. It's the easiest solution.

                    Ukranian Home is a sit down place, but there's usually a good amount of seating. You can eat for about $10 a head, give or take a few dollars.

                    Joe's pizza on 14th. It's got a hardcore following, and it's not the cheapest slice, or the best, but they'll get to sample a place that's considered a New York destination.

                    Num Pang, sandwich shop. About $9 for a sandwich. They're not huge, but they'll do the trick. There's one near Grand Central but it doesn't have seating, and one near Union Square, but again, it's too small, so I'll suggest the larger location on Broadway and about 25th, which has a more extended menu, and seating shouldn't be a problem. If it is, you can go to the Madison Sqr. Park nearby. There's also Hill Country Chicken which has a special that's like 2 pieces of chicken, and 2 sides, for around $10. The park is again an option, but they have a good amount of seating, with more downstairs.

                    Union Square has a Moaz for falafel. No seating for you all though.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sugartoof

                      I wouldn't wish the subterranean GC food court on my worst enemy.

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        Lots of good food and plenty of seating at the Grand Central food court. Plus kids could choose from lots of options of what to eat.

                        You should check to see what's open at the time you'll be going there. Some places are mostly only open during the day.

                        Eating there also means fewer shops, a logistical plus.

                      2. There is that new Joe's Pizza on 14th and 3rd Ave. Good, and a new outpost of the original NY Institution, so there is some authenticity. its not a big place, but 16 is going to be a lot of people anywhere.

                        1. How about Grand Sichuan on St. Mark's place?

                          1. Try getting to the city a little early and subway down to the LES. Eat at Katz's, and walk back up to the theater to get your blood flowing again.

                            1. small h....Thanks for the Vapiano recommendation. That is where we went, and it is exactly the type of venue I was looking for. It worked out perfectly for our particular group.
                              1) The pizza has very small slices, so everyone got to try a many kinds.
                              2) I got a reservation for 18 without a problem 5 days ahead of time. I got a phone call to confirm it.
                              3) The teens got to go back and forth and get their own free drink refills, so it was a good diversion for them.
                              4) It was so much easier with this crowd not to deal with table service, when we wanted more pizza, we just ordered a few more when we wanted.
                              5) We were pretty loud, but the top floor was pretty empty, and the big room dulls the noise anyway.
                              6) Yes, not NY style pizza, but really great Italian style pizza. The ingredients looked and tasted so fresh. What a fantastic thin crust. These are 12" pizzas.
                              7) All the people working there were so nice, even though I'm sure it put a little pressure on them dealing with a big group like this.
                              8) The price came out just as predicted, about $15 a head with the various tips I gave. We ordered about 14 pies, and had about 10 slices left. This was perfect, so it didn't blow the night's budget.
                              Just a few negatives just to be fair, this may not be great for every group,it depends on your budget and maybe the age of your group.
                              1) It was very hot upstairs. We were dressed for the warm weather, so no big deal for us. But maybe for elderly people.
                              2) The tip system was a little awkward for a big group. You just tip into plexiglass boxes where you pick up various items. I went to many stations, so I ran out of smaller bills, and the only place to get change is the hostess station, as that is the only place you pay. I did give my final tip at the front, they said all the workers share the tips. So, if the workers understand this, I guess it is not a big deal. But I didn't want any workers to think I was not tipping.
                              3) It is not formal, and we had to walk our pies up the stairs. Once again, not a big deal with us, the teens helped, and added some fun as we brought up the pizzas, and put them all out on the window ledge by our tables so the kids can pick what they wanted, and save room on the tables.
                              4) I guess they read somewhere, flies do not like basil. There was live basil on each table, and no flies!!

                              Thanks for all the other replies too. This was a great thread, and I'm sure all the suggestions will be helpful to groups going out in the area. I wish I could get down to NYC more.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: miketttt

                                Thanks for taking the time to fill us in on the whys, whats & hows of your final choice, mike. small h is usually right on these matters, in my experience, yet I'm glad the rest of the canaille entertained you, too.
                                (How was the show, btw? And did you really just turn 40?)

                                1. re: miketttt

                                  Thanks for reporting back, and I'm so glad Vapiano worked out for you. Thanks also for the additional information about the temperature & the tipping system - I'll take that into account next time I recommend the place.

                                  And like Phil Ogelos, I'd like to know who you saw at Webster Hall, and how it was.

                                2. Curious as to where you ended up and how was it?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: UES Mayor

                                    Read mike's post, ues, for heaven's sake; the one directly beneath yours, the one he wrote last night.